In a recent study, a group of adults were asked with questions about stress seven times a day via a smartphone app. The first prompt asked whether they expected the day to be stressful, the next five asked about current stress levels, and the final prompt asked whether they expected the next day to be stressful. They also completed tasks throughout the day that required “working memory,” the brain’s system for temporarily storing and managing information. The researchers found that anticipating stress in the morning was linked to a lower working memory later in the day — a big deal, since working memory is vital for reasoning, learning, focusing, and understanding. We’ve long known that stress has powerful physiological effects and, when it’s chronic, profound health consequences. But this study suggests that simply anticipating stress can harm your thinking ability. How to start the day off right? A brisk walk or jog, or doing yoga, can help to get you “out of your head” and into your body, which can help you stay in the present and out of worry mode. Meditation or some deep breathing can help to “clear the decks” in your mind and allow you to start the day fresh.
Source: Waking Up on the Wrong Side of the Bed: The Effects of Stress Anticipation on Working Memory in Daily Life
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
– William James